The third large ensemble superhero movie to hit the theatres this year, X-Men: Apocalypse sure is attracting attention as to whether it would be spared the critics’ onslaught like Captain America: Civil War or see its own apocalypse like Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. The third installment from the new X-Men trilogy proves to be a little bit of both, coming off as an enjoyable film to be honest.
Directed by Bryan Singer, who helms the past two X-Men films and two others from the original trilogy, this film was thought to be the culmination of all the past X-Men films. In the hands of someone who sort-of understands the X-Men universe by now, the new film is a mixture of comic book nostalgia and Hollywood theatrics. On one hand, we get a great “Age of Apocalypse” reminiscence with a classic villain fit for a trilogy’s climatic end, and on the other, we receive too much emphasis on certain characters and the lack of for some others. Undoubtedly, being one of three directors carrying the load of a superhero franchise, Singer would receive tons of comparisons. While he is no Russo Brothers, he certainly would not receive as much fan backlash as Zack Snyder.
For me, the best of the film would be the newcomers, Apocalypse (Oscar Issac, Star Wars: The Force Awakens) and Jean Grey (Sophie Turner, Game of Thrones). While Apocalypse has been set up to be the ‘big bad’ of the film, Turner’s character is set up to be that polar opposite to the menace. The villain wastes no time in trying to hatch its grand plan for the world, while a struggling teenager discovers the magnitude of her power and uses it for good. Comic book readers would know that Apocalypse and Jean Grey are the few most powerful mutants in X-Men history, and Singer capitalises of this comic book history to bring about a plot of apocalyptic (pun intended) proportions. The acting chops of Issac and Turner only helps to bring these epic characters to life and to viewers’ awe.
One flaw of this film is, however, not Singer’s fault per say, but the reality of Hollywood and the film industry. It is a common practice for film studios to decide on focusing on certain characters because of the attached celebrity’s reputation and fame. Look at Hugh Jackman as Wolverine and Jennifer Lawrence as Mystique. Since they bring in a large fan base full of money to throw at box offices, it is no wonder that they would be the choice of emphasis in plot and story. One of the main criticism of the previous film, X-Men: Days of Future Past, was that the film placed too much emphasis on Lawrence’s character, Mystique, who does not play as big of a role in the comic books.
Just like all Hollywood products, this film chooses to emphasise much on Magneto (Michael Fassbender; Macbeth, Steve Jobs), Quicksilver (Evan Peters) who previously appeared in a phenomenal slow-motion sequence that was probably the highlight of the previous film, and Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence; The Hunger Games franchise). While I can understand the need to address Magneto as a main plot line if you see this trilogy as one great character arc for his character and James McAvoy’s Charles Xavier, I disagree on the need of another Quicksilver slow-motion sequence, albeit more outrageous and hilarious, or the necessity to address Mystique’s hero/anti-heroness and her obsession to find Magneto. Quicksilver’s sequence in Days of Future Past is crazily entertaining and unique, but making another in the sequel, is just trying to run this slow-motion thing dry. Mystique’s on-off relationship with heroism is getting annoying and a murder to her character arc, and her relationship with Magneto should have ended in the last film.
While early reviews and critics states X-Men: Apocalypse as being worse than BvS, the film is nonetheless a fun and enjoyable one, especially if you had been a fan of the X-Men films, with the first released back in 2000. If you would put away the same expectations you have for Civil War, Deadpool, BvS, Suicide Squad, you might enjoy X-Men: Apocalypse.